I essentially work a graveyard shift. Wikipedia says: "Graveyard shift... means a shift of work running through the early hours of the morning, especially one from midnight until 8 a.m. There is no certainty as to the origin of this phrase; according to Michael Quinion it is little more than 'an evocative term for the night shift ... when ... your skin is clammy, there's sand behind your eyeballs, and the world is creepily silent, like the graveyard.'" Lovely.
Paul Drewes, Cat Toth, me
The newsroom, with its bright lights and blaring bank of television monitors, is not really like a graveyard. I should know, since I'm married to a funeral home co-owner, and I have lived across a cemetery before.
But working those odd hours will be the death of anyone, after too long. Most certainly, it's signaled the death my social life. After I got pregnant, it limped along on life support. After I moved to the morning show, it died altogether. How do you do anything after hours when your normal bedtime occurs when the SUN IS STILL UP???
KHNL News8 Today is 5 - 7 a.m., Monday through Friday. Five days a week, I set my alarm clock for 3 a.m. I'm lucky I'm a part-timer who can stagger in without having to set up the news. The two poor producers who do that, clock in around midnight.
I've learned to pick out my outfit the night before, pack my breakfast (eaten at 4 a.m.) and lunch (8 a.m.), and put my purse in the car. All I have to do is wake up and go.
I love my job. I love who I work with and for (Dan Schmidt), and what I do. It's a really, really fun show. That was a pleasant surprise. It's what keeps me going. The only problem is, it's extremely hard on the back end.
Nate Ho, Performance Fitness Hawaii- Thursday guest
I can leave after the show is done and the updates are cut. I often stay a bit longer - till 8:30 - to prepare the next day's scripts for any guests who I have booked. (If you book it, you produce it, you host it.)
Cat Toth, Thursday guest
I try to nap, but it doesn't always work out. The best thing I've found is to go to sleep at 6:30 p.m. and have a long night of rest. My day is winding down by about 4:30 or 5 p.m.
People keep making well-meaning remarks about, "Wow, what a great job! You have the rest of the day with your kid!" Yes and no. Waking up isn't difficult, and I am usually excited to go to work because we often have fun guests. I always walk in excited to see my work friends. The show is fast-paced and casual, and I enjoy it.
When I leave the studio, I'm still charged, but by around 1 p.m., I'm getting tired. I have learned to recognize fatigue comes in different forms, including the obvious (tired), and the not so obvious (spacey, unable to focus). I get much less done because I spend a lot of time just zoned out.
The saddest thing is that I have a two year old, and I want to be more energetic for her. I don't want to stick her in front of the TV for an hour because I'm brain dead, but I often do. When tired, I sometimes feel like I am looking at my life through a window, a little bit detached and not participating.
And, because she is two, I can only nap when she naps. If I don't do it in the morning when the sitter is here, I might miss my window for the day because she doesn't always nap well. If I get really tired, I'm screwed.
Another casualty is my relationship with my husband. We have a solid foundation, but since I moved to mornings, I feel I hardly see or talk to him. When he gets home I'm too tired to really converse, and then I'm off to bed. We joke that in a week's time, we exchange enough words to form one sentence.
On the weekends, I try to keep similar hours. I might let the bedtime slide to 8:30 p.m. and the wake up time slide to 6:30 a.m., but I don't want to, and my body clock can't handle, much more than that. This surprises a lot of people, but really - think about it. Consistency is key. Other morning anchors might do it differently, but this is what works for me.
Other people have different sleep needs, and energy demands, but I have been analyzed by sleep expert John Caldwell of Fatigue Science & Archinoetics as a "long sleeper" - meaning someone who likes eight to ten hours. I always have. It's a little inconvenient, but I accept it.
There's also the issue of vacation. I decided not to take one because time changes would throw off my delicately calibrated sleep cycle. What a drag.
It's an incredibly disciplined existence, and one flecked with a lot of fatigue. The first month transitioning was SO hard, I thought I might quit. I was tired all the time and miserable. I must reiterate, I always loved the job. It was the hours. I leaned on my friend Trini Kaopuiki, KHON's morning weathercaster. "Hang in there. It'll get better," she promised.
Thankfully, I got a teensy bit more used to it. It's at a tolerable level now. I honestly wonder how other morning newscasters do it for years and years. When I accepted this assignment, I decided to play it by ear and see how I felt after one year.
My Gal Sal's mini horses
This is my experience as morning anchor. I know it seems like a glamorous life, and for two hours a day, it is. It's the other 22 hours that get'cha. I just felt like sharing the behind the scenes stuff that people don't think about and wouldn't know.
As Trini put it, "What other job could you have that still lets you see your child all day? Even if you are tired?" To which I laughed back, "Trophy wife." Maybe that's my next calling.
Also reach me via DianeAko.com